What if There is No Casino?

There is a dying horse racing track on a substantial acreage – much like Suffolk Downs – which is located in Los Angeles, near to the international airport there.

In past years, all kinds of things were suggested for the sprawling development – ready site.

Now comes news that on that site of the failing horse racing track a proposal is now underway by the owners to build 3000 units of upscale housing, and in addition to that, retail shopping spaces, some office development and the variety of off-shoots that such an ambitious development would bring.

It causes us to wonder, what happens to Suffolk Downs if a casino is not approved for the location?

More importantly, what do the track owners in Los Angeles have to offer to the airport to put a 3000 unit real estate development on the site with retail shopping, commercial real estate space and all the accoutrement?

Nothing, really. They will build by right – and here at Suffolk Downs, if the casino doesn’t come to pass, just about the same would be true.

Suffolk Downs would not have to provide any traffic mitigation, build elderly centers, contribute cash scholarships, fund charity events, or contribute in any meaningful or required way if Suffolk Downs chose to go the way of a commercial-retail-real estate housing development instead of a casino.

This is not to say that a casino should be accepted by residents here because residents here will get next to nothing in benefits from a $1 billion development that is not a casino.

Rather, such a possibility gives reason to think carefully about the choices to be made and what the consequences will be.

Right now, with mitigation packages being negotiated by Boston and Revere as host cities for a possible casino at Suffolk Downs and with Winthrop and Chelsea as surrounding cities, there is much at stake on the table for nearly everyone involved.

In fact, well over $1 billion is involved initially and hundreds of millions more in the next few years to follow.

If Suffolk Downs fails at gaining a casino license because East Boston and Revere refuse to accept it in a referendum or the owners fail to gain the affirmative vote of the Gaming Commission on their application, then it will be back to the drawing board.

Suffolk Downs owners will opt to develop the site, we believe, the way the folks in Los Angeles are developing theirs if a casino does not come to pass.

The only difference is that the Suffolk Downs owners can develop their sprawling site as they wish on merit and by right without mitigation deals, without promises made and host city contracts to be kept.

It will be up to voters in East Boston and Revere to decide what will be better – a casino creating thousands of jobs and allowing for many millions in mitigation payments and new tax revenues or will it be as in Los Angeles – a goodbye to horse racing and the construction of housing, retail and commercial space in the amount of $1 billion without Suffolk Downs having to ask anyone for a vote, a favor or a payment.

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